Welcome to Cairo - Then & Now

August, 2010


Welcome to the “Cairo, Then and Now” website. Cairo was a growing and prominent city in southern Illinois at the turn of the twentieth century. Cairo’s geographic location at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, as well as being linked to Chicago by the Illinois Central Railroad Company, offered seemingly limitless opportunity for industrial and commercial growth. For numerous reasons the potential for growth would be unrealized. During the twenty-first century, Cairo suffered a dramatic decrease in private and commercial realty. As a result of economic hardships, merchants and proprietors closed shops and abandoned businesses. In turn, citizens of Cairo left their homes in search of prosperity elsewhere. Today, Cairo is a shadow of its former existence.


The purpose of this project is to preserve the history of Cairo’s commercial district and visually document the commercial district’s current condition before further deterioration or demolition, occur. By comparing and contrasting the apex of Cairo’s industrial and mercantile achievements to its current state, the effects of social and economic erosion are evidenced. Providing a visual illustration of this comparison will intensify the public’s understanding of the importance of historical preservation in this geographic locale. This website will also aid future scholars and historians in conducting research of Cairo, Illinois.


Viewers of this website should be aware that this project is a work in progress. The information presented was gathered from a limited number of resources and therefore may contain some erroneous or incomplete data. If a viewer has information they wish to contribute, they are strongly encouraged to do so. The project coordinator may be contacted through the webmaster's email. Research will continue to be conducted by project developers and future Preservation Summer students. The website will be updated as new discoveries are made.